Life with a 2016 MacBook Pro: Part 1

The first issue was my external monitor.

I have a Dell U2515H, a monitor Apple has doomed to irrelevancy because it lacks USB-C and Thunderbolt 3. In its place, the Dell is rocking a bunch of standard USB ports, DisplayPort, and HDMI.

It’s a good monitor. (I know: they’re all good monitors, Brent.) I replaced my Thunderbolt Display with it. The Dell is more colour-accurate, and it has smaller bezels. It’s also much brighter thanks to an almost imperceptible anti-glare coating on its LCD screen.

Getting rid of my Dell monitor because my laptop doesn’t play nicely with its port wasn’t happening.

So I set myself up with the first dongle, a USB-C hub with HDMI out, three old-school USB ports, and an SD card reader. It was $85 when I bought it. Now it’s $65, one month later. Oops.

But that’s not all! Apple really hates HDMI, and doesn’t display RGB colours over HDMI without some serious hacking.

$85 and an hour of frustration and Terminal hacking later, my new MacBook Pro worked over this monitor.

With my old MacBook Pro, all I had to do was plug in the DisplayPort cable. And that was it.

The new MacBook Pro comes with some compromises.

Dem Dongles

The dongles are definitely an issue.

Despite that, I don’t carry any dongles with me. Maybe I’m an edge case, but I don’t remember the last time somebody passed me a USB stick that I needed to act on right away. Murphy’s Law has me reluctant to share this information with you, but I don’t suspect my needs will change any time soon.

But the #DongeLife is a problem. The SD card reader in the dongle I bought doesn’t work, so I need to attach my camera via USB and use Image Capture to bring images in off my DSLR. But the write speeds are so fast on the new laptop that I don’t notice a big difference in speed. It’s just an annoyance.

I tried a 12″ MacBook before the new Pros came out (some brief thoughts on that here), and the dongles were much more of a problem there. On the MacBook Pro, the dongles are an inconvenience, but not a serious problem — at least, not for most of us.

That Keyboard Though

Can we talk about the keyboard for a second? Because this is a fantastic keyboard.

This is one of those times where I undoubtedly and passionately believe the haters are wrong.

The keyboards on the old Retina MacBook Pros are wobbly in comparison. They’re too shallow to alleviate the issue, and not firm enough to be consistent. The spacing between keys is ridiculous. Typing on them feels completely inferior after an hour of typing on a new MacBook Pro.

My wife has a 2011 MacBook Pro, and those keys have even more travel than my Retina MacBook Pro did. The keys on that 2011 pro are lovely. They’re firm, and they don’t wobble from side to side.

The keys on the new MacBook Pro, similarly, offer firm and tactile feedback. They make a wonderful clicky sound that anybody who likes mechanical keyboards will enjoy. And if you don’t pound on your keys like an angry gorilla typing with a hammer, they can be pretty quiet.

Let me offer a new theory: the keyboards Apple put on laptops in between 2012 and 2015 were all missteps. They were the bad keyboards. Hindsight is 20/20, though, and it’s hard to see the flaws in the one you love.

Two Weeks In

Exactly two weeks ago today, this new laptop arrived. Obviously, we haven’t had a ton of time to bond yet. And I’m still in the honeymoon phase.

But there’s a lot to process with this thing. And I do my best thinking when I’m writing. I still want to write about the keyboard, the Touch Bar, and the actual design of this thing.

But in the meantime, I have to admit: it’d be sort of nice to have an SD card reader that worked.

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November 30 2016 in Tools